A Typical Saturday!

Most of my Saturday’s start with a trip to the shops. There is only two of us and Artie (the cat), living in the house, but every weekend the shopping bill nears or exceeds £100!! 😮

Today’s shopping consisted of buying lots of fruit and vegetables and cat treats! 🙂 People say I spoil Artie, but with a face like this, how can I not?! 😀

Artie

Artie

Usually by noon we are home, the shopping is put away and I have attempted some kind of flower display with a new bouquet I have bought!

Recent flower display

Recent flower display

We occasionally have lunch in the living room. David lets the finches come out of their aviary to stretch their wings and fly around the room. Today, Chocolate and Romeo the Society Finches sat on the sofa with me!

Chocolate and Romeo the Society Finches

Chocolate and Romeo the Society Finches

After lunch, it is all about cleaning the house. It can take up to two hours! If I am alone, it can take more! David helps by vaccuming while I do the dusting, dining room and bathroom.

If it is sunny outside then I forego doing the floors until Sunday and go out into the garden and enjoy the flowers, birds and insects.

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Today though, it was cold and cloudy so after doing the chores I listened to Classic FM and noticed a House Sparrow visiting the feeders.

After 5pm I turn my attention to the kitchen. I listen to Saturday Night at the Movies while making a start on the evenings meal. Tonight’s meal was my version of a Mexican Bean and Vegetable Soup with home-made Wholemeal mini loaves. I got the recipe from the Change for Life website/recipe app, though I adapted it.

Recipe for Mexican Bean and Vegetable Soup:

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil for pan
  • 2-3 garlic cloves crushed/chopped
  • 2 small onions chopped
  • 1 chilli chopped
  • 1 pepper chopped
  • 2 celery ribs chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder (I used medium)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 850ml of vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 can mixed beans
  • 1 can sweetcorn or frozen
  • Handful of red lentils (it was a last minute addition)
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander (I got ours from the garden!)
  • Pinch of ground black pepper and salt to taste
Coriander

Coriander

Method:

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently cook the onion until softened.
  • Then add the celery, pepper, chilli and garlic and cook for 5-10 minutes (use your discretion as to when to stop cooking.)
  • Add the chilli powder and the tomatoes and bring to the boil.
  • Pour in the stock and add the tomato puree, mixed beans, sweetcorn (drained if tinned) and lentils (if using). Heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  • Add the coriander (if using) and season with some salt and pepper. Ladle into warm bowls and serve with a slice of wholemeal bread
Mexican Bean and Vegetable Soup

Mexican Bean and Vegetable Soup with Wholemeal Mini Loaves

For the wholemeal mini loaves I followed the recipe I use for easy white bread. I just changed the strong white flour for Allinson Wholemeal Seed & Grain Bread Flour. It’s delicious, I don’t think I will ever go back to baking with just white flour again!

Saturday evenings tend to be a mixture of wine and music while David often plays on GTA5 with his brother and cousin. At the moment I am reminiscing about playing Final Fantasy VII in the 90’s. The story was engaging, had a baddie that you love to hate (Sephiroth) and the music written by Nobuo Uematsu was out of this world too! You can listen to Final Symphony on Spotify, though I actually bought the mp3 from Amazon!

I shall sign off now and enjoy the last remaining light of day.

Goodnight!

© 2015 Christine Lucas

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Longer Days are Coming…

The nights are drawing out and the clocks have not gone back yet! However we have had a few ‘spring like’ days in the NW of England recently and whilst on my walk to work I have smelt the promise of warmer weather and longer days. Even the birds are getting ready for the new season, as whilst I was standing at the bus stop on Friday a Magpie flew overhead with nesting material! Spring is such an exciting time as the world slowly awakens from the cold grasp of winter.

This weekend I have been busy hunting for more ‘spring’ flowers for the garden with insects in mind.

David took me to my favourite garden centre Lady Green in Ince Blundell and I spent over £50 on plants! In my defence half of that was on a Magnolia, ‘water-lily’ tree, I just hope it grows. I have had two other Magnolias before and they have both died. 😦 Third time lucky I say!

Amongst the purchases I bought an Erysimim which I found out was a Wallflower and an Anemone which is a kind of Poppy! I went shopping with a list and came away with everything other than what was on the list! I just followed the RHS sign of ‘Perfect for Pollinators’

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The weather forecast for the UK this weekend was supposed to be warm with sunny spells. It did not feel like that on Saturday, it was cold, grey and miserable. So I have planned to plant my purchases tomorrow. Hopefully Sunday will be a brighter day?

Whilst pottering about the garden today I noticed my Sedum has sprung back to life! That was a plant which was covered with bees and butterflies last year so I hope it will be the same this year!! My Cat Mint and Oregano has ‘spawned’ again as has my Aquilegia, which is such a prolific plant! This will be the second spring it has reseeded itself!

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Amongst others, David’s Acer has started to re-bud and my Hellebore has grown, I have high hopes for that next winter. My Jasmine, though it looks a bit twee seems to have survived the wet winter and my Passion Flower has grown astronomical! I hope there are flowers this summer, it will look beautiful!!

Things are slowly awakening and hopefully once the warmer days are upon us, the garden will start to have the buzzing of insects and the chinking of wine glasses! I can’t wait to sit and enjoy my outside space. I have been stuck inside for way too long! Fingers crossed there will be at least as good if not better summer than last year ahead! We can but pray!

Christine xx

Broken Bones, New Friends and Anniversaries!

I haven’t written a blog in a while.

Life has been mainly about work and life back home, doing lots of cooking and writing the new novel. 🙂

This week saw the eighth anniversary of the first meeting of David and I… time passes so quickly! For our anniversary David bought two Gouldian Finches (males). I named them Spectrum (Purple and yellow chest) and Aura (white and yellow chest). I love them, though Chocolate and Romeo have not accepted them into the new aviary as yet! Time will tell!

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For our dinner we ordered in a Saffron curry. We both had a Shahi, but as David had chicken I had the vegetarian option. We are both very full now.

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I have been doing a lot of treadmill exercises since David and I have moved into the new house. Everyday, for 20-30 minutes I have been sweating buckets! I have been eating healthily, lots of salad and I think I have lost weight. My work trousers have indeed become looser. I do not stand on the scales for fear I will revert back to my obsessive teenage years!! (It is so easily done.) Though having the curry tonight (we have not had one in a while) and a nice glass of wine, I am feeling rather swollen lol, and add to the fact that I will not be able to do too much exercise this week, due to me having dislocated/broken my little toe, I fear I will start to put back the pounds I have lost!

Dislocated/broken your toe? I hear you asking! Well it seemed quite innocuous at the time. I was getting ready for bed on a Sunday, it was almost 12 am! I was preparing myself for the working week ahead and since we have a mattress that likes to shift from time to time, I went to shift it back again. This act was fine and the mattress fitted into place and then I went to walk around the bed to my side and *bang!* my foot caught one of David’s shoes under the bed! I smarted at the impact, bent down and looked at my little toe, it seemed queer, out of place. So my instinctual action was to bend it back into place. It clicked, so hopefully it is in its correct alignment! I did not think much at the time, save for the pain and then ‘popping’ it back into place! I hope I have not done any lasting damage? I complained to David and then went to bed with a red, hot and swollen toe! I wanted more comfort! 😦

Monday came too quickly and I had work all day, I had to go otherwise I would’t get paid! The bruising seemed to get worse as time went on! (Sorry for the not so well manicured toes!)

20140304_162432😦 Sadly and licking my wounds. I tottered to work with a bandaged toe. I have had broken toes before so know what it’s like, but it doesn’t make it any easier when you have to walk 10 minutes to the bus stop, fight your way onto the bus and then more walking to the university buildings the lectures are in!

I have managed two days of going to work with a limp but thankfully Wednesday is my day off and I expect to just rest up! I will probably listen to more Hans Zimmer and try and continue some more novel writing! I have written 27,000 words already but most of it is the plan!! I am excited to progress but there is a lot of research and planning to do for some of the scenes, so it will probably be painstakingly slow!

David’s Finch Aviary.

After draft upon draft of plans, months of research, creating a water feature and stripping bark off tree branches. David has finally finished his aviary and the two Bengalese finches, Chocolate and Romeo have moved in.

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Doesn’t it look lovely? It really is a feature in the living room and the finches have settled in nicely. 

 

We’ve survived!

Well it’s been a week of living independently in the new house… and I can safely say we have survived!!

I thought that living with David I may lose my identity but I have been able to do my exercises when I want too, (at last we have a gym!) and last night I even left him to his new TV and went to my bedroom to listen to Hans Zimmer soundtracks and relax before bed.

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Yesterday David spent several hours in the loft trying to lay boards on the beams so we could store some ‘not so often used’ items.Today after shopping and trying to sift through the mountain of cuddly toys I own. We managed to store some of my belongings in the loft space.

Looking at my old bedroom, I still have a lot of stuff to either dispose of or store… it is quite amazing how much one accumulates in over 37 years of life!

This evening, I embarked on tackling the electric oven and hob! I have only known cooking with gas so facing an electric stove was daunting! I had two pans on the go, one for rice and the other for a vegetable chilli. All week I had been itching to make a meal. I even wanted to make a fresh loaf of bread, but David doesn’t like bread!

I was like a child in the kitchen, everything was new! I was excited at using my new sieve, then I opened my packet of wooden spoons and even using my new granite chopping board was a thrill, (I really must get out more!).

I think it will take me a while to get used to the electric hob, especially after the previous inhabitants had scoured away the markings from the settings. We had to leave it to guess work at what heat setting the hob was on. At one moment I was faced with a pan of simmering rice and then I lifted the lid and the water was still…the rice would take ages to cook in a luke warm pan!

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Luckily I had started preparing early, so after an hour the chilli was cooked and the rice was fluffy. I was even cooking a serving for mum so I had three meals to make. On separate plates I placed some doritos and sour cream dip. I then warmed up some tortillas and shared the chilli and rice between us.

When David came to the dining room, my stereo, in it’s new home was switched on to Classic FM and the table was laden with food and drink. 🙂

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Now afterwards, sitting with a filled tummy and a glass of wine coursing through my veins. I write this blog with the sounds of war coming from David’s ‘Battlefield 4’ echoing around the living room and the two finches Chocolate and Romeo chirruping in their cage.

ImageIt’s been a long day, in fact it’s been a long week. I am feeling tired so I am signing off for the night…

Christine x

My Weekend Starts….Here..! :)

Phew! What a week! I worked a full three and a half days! Believe me, my body has not been used to doing that for a good many months!

I worked my three days at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, meeting many company representatives and people who work in the admin side of Supplies and Nursing in the NHS and on Wednesday I ‘chief’ invigilated my first ‘big’ room exam! I usually specialise in ‘extra time’ exams for students with disabilities but this morning from 10am to 1pm I ran and conducted a medical exam for 20 students! To say I was amazed at myself that I could stand, talk and direct more than 20 people is an understatement. I really did not think I had it in me to stand before people and talk aloud! I am more stronger, more confident than I give myself credit for. I am surprising myself more and more as this year progresses. I always thought myself as shy but maybe I am now, finally coming out of my shell to fulfill my potential???

But today is Thursday and I have Friday and the weekend off! The UK is supposed to see some sunshine and summer like weather again, so I am hoping to spend tomorrow sunbathing before cheering on Andy Murray in his Wimbledon semi-final! On Saturday I hope the sun continues to bask down upon us and my family can enjoy a BBQ. Well that is what I have planned anyway!  🙂

Below you will find two videos I have uploaded to my YouTube channel recently. One is of baby Goldfinches I videoed on Tuesday evening around 7pm. They were making a right racket and the rest of the ‘charm’ were all eagerly gobbling the sunflower seeds on offer in my garden.

The second video is of my Bengalese (Society)  Finches, Chocolate (female) and Romeo (male). This is the first video I have made of Romeo since Caramel passed. (I still miss her.) I think Chocolate is cursing my name as since getting Romeo, he has not left her alone! It is pleasant of a morning to sit listening to him singing. Now, Thursday evening as the sun sets, it is nice to see them finally bonded and sitting on their rope swing together.

Hope you all enjoy the weekend wherever you are! 😀

Crying Over a Light Extinguished. :(

I’ve sad news to inform you all today.

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Caramel the Society Finch was found on the bottom of her cage this morning.

Yesterday I noticed that Caramel was looking decidedly disheveled. Her eyes were bright enough so I thought nothing of it. Caramel has been very friendly with me recently, more so than normal. She would come to the end of the perch and try and get close to me as I was saying hello. Caramel loved boiled egg which I would give to them as a treat and she never flew away when my hand was in the cage to replace their food or water. I had grown very attached to her.

Last night David and I noticed that Caramel was having trouble flying. She would jump to the perches instead of flying to them. She was a lovely little flyer, could hover like a hummingbird and flutter like a butterfly. Caramel could change direction at the last minute and fly at all angles. Though last night she was having trouble. I thought it may have been with her claws as she had long nails. So we cut them but she still persisted in her flying and hit the bottom several times with falling. David noticed her tail feathers were short as if she had plucked them out! We made some adjustments to the cage and set up the nest box for them to settle in. Caramel jumped right into the nest and called out happily.

You will all understand my shock at what I discovered while peering into the cage this morning. There was Chocolate sitting all alone and then I saw Caramel lying on her side on the bottom of the cage. I bawled for a life ended, a soul that had taken flight. I loved how Caramel would be receptive to me and even Chocolate mourned her loss, calling out for a reply that never came. It was the shock of seeing her lifeless body that struck me the most.

My mum dug a little grave for Caramel amongst my Honeysuckle and there she will lie becoming one with the roots and soil.

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Final resting place of Caramel Connor-Evans.

More Couples!

Well, today was a short day at work. So being back home by 11am, I had plenty of time to watch the various winged visitors to my back yard.

The Dunnock couple visited so many times today that I can’t even remember! Every time I looked out of the window, there was at least one Dunnock, sometimes two! When I was getting ready for work this morning, I saw the couple hopping about the soil and later on they were hopping about the yard and got so close to the door. They do seem very relaxed with their surroundings!

Another couple that has started visiting more regularly now is the Great Tit couple. I saw them at least twice today. One time they were on the sunflower feeders in both trees, they are looking so plump, almost as plump as the Blue Tit couple that visits.

Talking of the Blue Tits, this morning I heard the one that sounds like a children’s toy gun calling out, though later on in the evening I didn’t see nor hear them visiting. I do hope they are both okay and that the horrible wet weather we are having has not upset their activities.

One couple that did visit today, made me so overjoyed at seeing them again! It was the Goldfinch couple and they were both sharing the sunflower hearts from a feeder in the big tree, getting at least some shelter from the horrible driving rain. I do have some Nyjer seed for them, but they don’t seem to have found them as yet! I still think they are a little nervous at visiting! I did go to get my camcorder but they both flew off as I lifted the lens towards them. 😦 They both seemed so hungry, again, I hope that if they continue to visit, they will grow as plump and glossy as the Dunnock, Great and Blue Tits. 🙂

I am slightly worried for the Blue Tits, I hope they have visited when I was just not looking! I don’t think my back yard will be the same without their presence!

Our Society Finches are still sitting on their eggs. It seems like forever since Chocolate (I’m saying it’s her as she is so much bigger than Caramel!) started laying her eggs. David sent me a link saying it could be up to another two weeks before they hatch or we clean the eggs from the nest. That’s not a job I am looking forward to, lets all keep our fingers crossed that we have a male and female Finch and they have given us fertile eggs. 😀